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HYDERABAD: A provincial office-bearer of the National Bank of Pakistan Welfare Officers Federation, Ghulam Hyder Kunbhar, has accused the bank’s regional management team (RMT) of implicating innocent employees in the gold loan scheme fraud, unearthed in May, while saving the culprits. The allegation was rejected by the NBP regional head, Rafiq Bhurgari, who said the accusers were trying to distract the fraud investigation.

Kunbhar, the general secretary of the federation’s Sindh chapter, while speaking at a press conference at the local press club on Saturday, named three regional officers and alleged that they were patronising the culprits and victimising innocent employees.

Reading from a six-page written text, Kumbhar said accused the three officers of patronising the “fraud mafia in various branches of the NBP”. He said that news of fraud in the bank’s Qasimabad branch had already been published but the regional administration was struggling to save the main culprit who had already been exposed.

The man at the centre of the scam, he said, was found involved in previous fraud cases, still he was given such posts that could facilitate his crime. “He [the main suspect] continued to hold his post for three years which clearly shows that he was someone special for the regional management.

He accused the main suspect of having mortgaged fake gold to sanction a Rs1 million loan in the name of his friend around three-and-a-half years back. The fact had surfaced in the audit of the Gari Khata branch.

Kunbhar said that the (then) regional management settled that case and the suspect was posted at the bank’s Qasimabad branch where many cases of gold loan used to be processed. Eventually, a fraud of Rs100 million surfaced, he added.

“Following this fraud, the regional administration got an inquiry conducted by two of its officers to save its favourites and implicate innocent employees. The committee prepared first report, holding one employee responsible for criminal negligence and 12 others irrelevant persons responsible for ‘mishap’. Since it didn’t meet the requirements of the administration, another report was got prepared in which 12 irrelevant employees were implicated,” Kunbhar said.

A similar fraud of Rs500 million took place in the bank’s Kotri branch but no action was taken in the matter and the case was not handed over to Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The labour leader called for a fair and transparent inquiry into the whole affair and punishment to culprits of fraud and their protectors.

NBP regional head Rafiq Bhurgari dismissed the allegations levelled by Kunbhar. He said he himself had detected the fraud as the regional manager. He said Jamali and his certain other associates were found involved in the fraud.

Bhurgari said that the case had been handed over to the FIA for further investigation but this group of people were trying to divert the investigation.

“The accounts of gold loan scheme are operated through the user identification (ID) of these people. The NBP management has handled the matter legally without any prejudice. Kunbhar and his group is involved in mudslinging and propaganda against the bank management,” he added.

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017